DC consistently gets a bad rap for its style — or lack thereof. During an interview for a Slate Magazine podcast, I defended our fair city. We do have style — even in government offices. But let’s get real; we live and work in a government town. We are not a city of models and actors preening for street style shots in drop-crotch pants and avant garde rubber catsuits. In our world of testifying before Congress, vying for partner at law firms and running nonprofits, our clothing should say something about us, but not literally speak for us.
Does that mean a career in DC mandates a closet full of gray dresses and black pants? Certainly not. Exhibit A – Elizabeth Fitzsimmons, Executive Deputy Secretary with Secretary of State John Kerry. Elizabeth, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, is one of my very favorite clients. This DC Boss Lady proves that you can have fun with your personal style while still maintaining a serious professional look.
Our first goal with Elizabeth was to streamline her closet. She has a busy schedule here in DC and frequently travels overseas for work. We wanted her to be able to “grab and go” when it comes to getting dressed each morning or packing for a work trip. To that end, we made sure to keep and add to her closet only pieces that suited her personal style and lifestyle; fit well; and mixed-and-matched easily. We also organized so she can always get to what she needs without searching. We gave her ideas on how to store clothing so everything in her wardrobe is visible. This helps in creating daily outfits, but also makes for smarter shopping since we can easily assess what she has and what she needs.
Our second goal was to create looks are polished and pulled together , but never overdone or complicated. Elizabeth’s style is lux classic. She loves color and pattern. For work, she sticks with classic silhouettes, but loves rich pattern and detail in her clothing. At DC Style Factory we encourage our clients to kick their workwear up a notch by mixing color/pattern; incorporating texture, and finishing with fun, bold accessories.
Can’t go wrong with one-and-done dress with sleeves. This icy steel St. Emile beauty from Betsy Fisher is an easy classic, but the quilted texture is what sets it apart. The dress came with a belt, but we decided to nix it in favor of a great necklace to add interest. The warm tone of the animal print pump is the perfect compliment to the brass necklace. These pieces together up the chic factor of Elizabeth’s look.
Elizabeth is a career member of Senior Foreign Service. And as such, she has lived around the world. When we audited her closet, we “oohed” and “aaahed” over the gorgeous jewelry and clothing pieces she had collected during her years abroad. One such piece is this sublime silk jacket by Indian designer Ranna Gill. When we met Elizabeth, she knew this jacket — which had been gifted from the designer — was too special to part with (we agreed!), but she had trouble figuring out how exactly to style it. She had tried wearing it with long- sleeve tops and it just alway felt off. The blouse sleeves plus the dolman-like sleeves of the jacket ended up adding too much volume to her silhouette.
We decided to try the jacket with a sleeveless tunic top and cigarette pants to ground her look. We wanted the jacket, and its bold colorful print, to be the statement. The result is a look with shape and color that is outside the box, but still work-appropriate with simple, tailored basics.
Elizabeth’s Kobi Halperin car coat style jacket is a showstopper. The pattern and fringe detail makes any outfit a look. It’s a great example of how pattern in your closet can instantly elevate. Additionally, the longer car-coat style of the jacket gives Elizabeth a lux, sophisticated look for work. We paired the jacket with a simple black sheath dress and classic black pumps. The sparkly statement necklace takes her look for day to night for her many post-work evening events.
Another example of how to add interest to a professional look is to mix patterns. The rule of thumb when mixing patterns is to choose like colors (in this case, black and white) and then select one larger, bolder print and one smaller, subtler print (in this case the Max Mara Weekend blouse from Betsy Fisher is bolder and the IRO Paris jacket is subtler).
Tell us, our fellow professional women…How do you mix up your work look for some bold Boss Lady style?
Photography by Sarah Marcella Photography.